News and Info

News and Information

News and Information for members of and people interested in the North American Conference of Associates and Religious.

Advent WreathToday marks the beginning of Advent! It's the start of a new liturgical year and twenty-four days of preparation for the celebratory coming of Jesus—an occasion for peace and renewed hope through the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord on Christmas Day. And so we prepare ourselves for rejoicing.


The board of directors had its fall gathering last month to begin formulating a strategic plan. We agreed NACAR's Mission statement adequately describes our purpose and mission activities. Next was attention given to the question, "what does NACAR want to become as a result of its mission?" In other words, what do we want NACAR to look like at some point in the future? This is what we came up with:

A vibrant, viable organization that collaborates with regional partners to promote association in all its forms.

The statement's words/phrases such as vibrant, viable, collaborates, regional partners and promote association provide excellent substance for planning goals. For starters, we brainstormed these: resolving the need for an executive director; broadening benefits and services; outreach, development, and recruitment of members; promoting relationships among regional associate groups; expanding board and board committee memberships to include regional representation; and exploring fundraising prospects.

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Tree in the fall with changing colorsI was vividly reminded of the fall season about two weeks ago when my board confrere Conni Dubick and I traveled to Wisconsin where we met with a group of Midwest Kindred Spirits associate leaders in Fond du Lac. While "back there," I noted the amazing variety of fall colored leaves ever so beautiful. "Out here" where I live, urban Californians the likes of me don't experience the richness of fall colors; rather, the landscape is more like dead-looking brown leaves cluttering the ground, or trees simply remaining forever green.

My goodness! The Thanksgiving holidays are just around the corner.

Have you had an opportunity to review the results of the 2013 Associate Leadership Survey published last month? The full report provides data around roles and compensation for those in associate leadership positions within religious congregations. Registered users can download it here .

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A Word from The Associate Editors

Conni Dubick, Associate, Dominican Sisters of Peace and Elizabeth Avalos, BVM

"Read, reflect and respond" is the mantra among the NACAR Board members, describing a new request for dialogue with our members and visitors to the website. In recent issues of The Associate, including this one, we have placed thought provoking articles with an invitation to NACAR members to "read, reflect and respond" with their thoughts and experiences. This interaction will facilitate collaborative thinking and enhance the NACAR membership as a valuable resource.

Earlier visitors to the website did read and reflect on the Jane Forni, SSND article, "Call and Relationship: A Reflection on Association," and on "Charism at its Core" by Elizabeth Fitting, BVM. But the call to respond to the open forum through comments on the website or submission of reflections for publication did not happen. This issue features the well-researched and insightful "Personal Reflection on Lay Association" by Jeanne M. Connolly, Ed.D., Wheaten Franciscan Covenant Member/Associate. Jeanne's reflection concludes by "encouraging us to share our thoughts with others, so together we build a future that contributes to the good of the whole, as well as to the kin-dom of God."

There is other essential content in this Fall issue of The Associate, including the NACAR Survey 2013 on Associate Leadership, offering data on roles and compensation for the ministry of associate leadership in religious congregations. There are also regional reports of Associate/Religious events.

So, Readers, get ready to do the three Rs with this Fall issue of The Associate, designed to engage you in mind and spirit.

A Personal Reflection on Lay Association

By Jeanne M. Connolly, Ed.D., Wheaton Franciscan Covenant Member/Associate

Jeanne Connolly, Ed.D.
Jeanne Connolly, Ed.D., serves as the Director Covenant (Associate) Relationship with the Wheaton Franciscans. She has more than 30 years of leadership, management, training, and consult- ing experience. She earned a doctorate in adult education from Northern llinois University with emphasis on human resource and organizational development. She has been a Covenant Member (Associate) with the Wheaton Franciscans for more than 17 years. She has served as the director since 2007.

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ ... [Corinthians1: 12]

It is estimated that currently there are more than 50,000 lay associates in North America. This is a significant increase since a survey in 2000 by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which reported 24,500 associate (although not all orders completed the survey)1. Although association with religious orders goes back centuries, this phenomenon has been growing rapidly since the 1980s, particularly among congregations of women.2

For the most part, the current associate movement is young within the context of consecrated religious life, but all viable and creative life forms must continuously seek transformation or be destined to die. I offer this essay as my personal reflection on this committed form of life. I offer it as an opportunity for shared reflection and open and honest dialogue as associates and professed religious continue the journey to spiritual deepening and service to God and all of God's creation.

To develop transformational capability, we cannot be normal people doing normal things. We must stand outside the norm. To do that we need to go inside ourselves and ask who we are, what we stand for, and what impact we really want to have. We change the world by changing ourselves.3

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There was a correction to the Fall 2013 issue of The Associate. If you have already downloaded it, please delete that edition and download the corrected version. NACAR members should login and download the corrected version from the link on the right side of the home page or from here .

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United States Province of the School Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis LogoShout out a big WELCOME to another new congregational member of NACAR: the United States Province of the School Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis! Besides the U.S., community members and associates are located in South Africa, Chile, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Slovakia. The Institute’s charism is “ … intimate union with God in the midst of apostolic service” which is “rooted in the Franciscan penitential tradition of Gospel living.” Once again: WELCOME Sisters and Associates to the North America Conference of Associates and Religious!

We bring to your attention two recently published documents. The first is the results of the 2013 Associate Leadership Survey , and the second is NACAR’s 2012-2013 Annual Report . Members need to be logged into the website to download the documents.

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